Saturday, May 30, 2009

Taking care of your Baby!

Sewing Machine Maintenance
Did you know your machine is your biggest expense when it comes to your craft? Some may think it is your fabric stash (and if you are like most of the RQQ members, it is huge!!lol,) but maintaining your machine makes your craft more enjoyable. I have some hints to make your machine last longer, and be more productive. These come from my own experience, as well as noted machine repair experts.
1. Use quality thread. Older threads will break, fray, and cause extensive lint buildup. Avoid this by purchasing better brands. Some on the market include YLI, Superior, Guttermann, Mettler/Metrosene, Sulky and Madeira. Avoid using the “Bargain Bin” threads. If you have to rethread the machine because of thread breakage more than 3 times in a project, use the old one for hand sewing, and get something newer. Thread breaks down over time, so don’t use Grandma’s either!
Check out Superior Thread and YLI and others. Many have great websites chock full of information and ideas! Superior even has jokes!

2. Use a quality needle. Singer Machines usually require Singer needles, but Schmetz needles are the ones recommended by many experts for all other home machines. Use the size recommended for the fabric, and the style of needle, too. Needles have different purposes, and work best when matched. You should change your needle every 3 or 4 projects. It does get dull, and your project will look better. Quilting needles are great for quilting the layers. Denim size 14 also work well for this. Universal size 11 or 12 are great for piecing, but when sewing knits or stretch fabric, switch to that. If you know the needle you were using for one project is still good, and want to save it when you switch to another type of fabric, put a sliver of felt or fabric in the spot in the case when you remove the needle, so you remember what type it was and where it was from. Or you can get out your huge magnifying glass to read the little letters on the base, lol. If you start getting skipped stitches, it might be a sign that your needle needs to be replaced. Check for smoothness before you keep it. If it has a burr or is slightly bent, it can damage your machine or fabric, and break during use. Don’t try it. The needle is the part of the machine that gets the most wear! is a great source for thread and needles!

3. Clean the lint out of your machine after every project or so. Some recommend every bobbin change, and I know that when I quilt, it needs to be cleaned much more often than when sewing clothes. Listen to your machine. It will tell you when it really needs it, but do it on a regular basis before then! Get in the habit!! It will make your machine much quieter, smoother, and run better, so the jams and fabric snags at the beginning will be avoided. A good quality lint brush is great for this. Don’t blow into your machine by mouth!! Your breath has too much moisture and could lead to rust! If you feel your brush won’t reach all the lint, get a can of Spray Air (office supply stores or wholesale clubs have good prices on this) and use it carefully. Follow the label. Usually it says don’t shake or tilt, since moisture can spray out instead of just air. KEEP THIS OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN! There have been issues with misuse. Here is one link that gives some good info on cleaning your machine. Check your book, too! Just do it! Often! Now would be good, or at least when you finish reading the blog!

4. Get out your machine book and reread how to clean and oil it. Most books give the specifics for your machine. Don’t be afraid to do this yourself. You can easily do it, and it will save you lots of money at the repair shop, and time without your trusty machine when you are in the middle of a project. Remember to get under or behind the bobbin case, and replace everything carefully. There are sharp edges, so watch your precious fingers. Add a drop of machine oil (make sure you buy the quality oil recommended for your machine) after you are done cleaning it, according to the book. Some people don’t recommend “Spray Air” for your machine, but my rep does. He also recommends using a vacuum attachment to get out the lint, and cutting your thread at the spool and pulling it through the needle instead of pulling it back through the machine when changing colors. This helps to avoid some lint in the tension area. Check with your favorite machine repair place for details on your machine. Most reps will gladly help you learn how to maintain your machine. The time invested is well worth it. Maintained machines have a better trade-in value when you want that new baby!


  1. Now I know why I can't sew ... chuckle!
    TTFN ~ Marydon

  2. Great post and good basic information. Thanks for the subject. Always good to review maintenance for our "babies". One thing I'd like to add is DO NOT use 3 in 1 oil for your sewing machine. Lots of hubbies have that in their shop and think it will be fine. ONLY use fine grade sewing machine oil; its a finer lighter refined oil. 3 in 1 oil will eventually gum up and turn to a rubbery mass. This info came to me from a highly trained sewing machine technician of 40 yrs.

  3. Those are excellent tips! Some I do and some I don't do, so I need to start doing better!

  4. Great tips!! I see I need to change needles more often so I put needles on my shopping list!